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Leisurely Visits

This year’s high school football season has been one of the best. We’ve seen our two favorite teams — the Redbank Valley Bulldogs and the Union/A-C Valley Falcon Knights — tie for the division title, with playoff berths for both.

And this weekend, we get even more bonus football as Redbank moves on to challenge top-seeded Coudersport for the District 9 Class 1A championship. We wish the Bulldogs all the best in the game, which will take place on Saturday at 1 p.m. in DuBois.

Be sure to check back next week for full coverage from the big game.

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It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas, and the Redbank Valley Public Library will help get you in the holiday mood with its annual Shop, Look & Listen event this Saturday, Nov. 16, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The library will be full of vendors offering a wide array of gift items, and there will also be holiday story times and crafts for children.

A Chinese auction, raffles, lunch and more round out the day’s events. More details can be found on our Social Page.

Be sure to support your local library by attending this great community activity.

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Speaking of support, your local schools need your vote in PennDOT’s annual Paint the Plow contest.

By visiting PennDOT’s website at www.penndot.gov/District10 and clicking on the “Paint the Plow” icon, you can choose your favorite painted plow from the 16 that were decorated by students from Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Jefferson and Indiana counties.

“Paint the Plow” is a statewide outreach aimed at promoting winter driving safety and fostering appreciation for high school art programs and student creativity.

Students from Redbank Valley, Union and Clarion-Limestone took part in the contest this year, along with students from Brockway School District, Brookville High School, Butler County ATVS, Holy Sepulcher Catholic School, Homer City Elementary School, Homer City High School, Jeff Tech, Knoch High School, Leechburg Area School District, Moniteau High School, Portersville Christian School, St. Luke Lutheran School and United High School.

You only have until Nov. 17 to cast your vote, so be sure to do so today.

The plow photo that receives the most votes will be deemed the “Fan Favorite.”

During the winter weather season, the blades will be used to maintain area roadways. Along with the “Fan Favorite” award, the blades are also eligible for the “Judges’ Pick” honor that will be determined by PennDOT personnel.

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The November edition of the Stars Over Clarion show will be held Thursday, Nov. 14 and Friday, Nov. 15 at the Clarion University planetarium.

Shows begin at 7 and 8 p.m. on both nights, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m.

Show-goers can tour the November night, and be introduced to the month’s brightest stars and constellations, as well as highlights of the month’s celestial happenings.

The show is free and open to the general public. Families are welcome.

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If you’re looking to get outside this weekend, the Jefferson County Shelter Task Force will hold its 1st Annual 5K Run/Walk Event in Punxsutawney this Saturday as part of the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

The run/walk event will start with registration at the Jefferson County Housing Authority (JCHA) Social Hall beginning at 12:30 p.m. The run/walk will kick off at 2 p.m.

The registration fee is $17 on the day of the race. Proceeds will benefit local food banks and local homeless shelters.

Redbank alumni to take on West Shamokin Saturday night

NEW BETHLEHEM – Redbank Valley sports fans will be in their glory this Saturday, with a football doubleheader spanning the generations.

Not only will the high school Bulldog team take on Coudersport at 1 p.m. in DuBois for the District 9 Class 1A championship, but a team comprised of former Redbank players will take part in an Alumni Football USA game at West Shamokin High School Saturday night.

“We have a really nice squad,” player Austin Blose said, noting that as a member of Redbank Valley’s Class of 2010, he’s “one of the older guys” taking part in the game.

The game will kick off at 7 p.m. on the new turf field and under the lights at West Shamokin. Proceeds benefit the West Shamokin Booster Club.

“It’s full pads, full contact,” Blose said.

He explained that West Shamokin hosts an alumni game every year. This year, he said, the team that was supposed to take on the home school backed out, so Redbank stepped in.

Blose said the team has been practicing for several weeks under the direction of coaches Ruben Carrillo and Tom Wagner.

“It’s definitely been a re-learning experience,” he said, adding that he likes his team’s chances.

“We have a pretty stacked backfield, and Jake Dougherty is our starting quarterback, fresh out of college football,” he said.

Blose said the team is hoping to have a strong following of Redbank fans make the trip to Rural Valley for the game, and T-shirts are being sold for family and fans.

To add to the experience, the team is planning a Friday night walk-through of game plans, along with a pre-game dinner at Zack’s in New Bethlehem before they depart on a team bus for the game.

“I’m trying to bring a crowd with us,” he said, joking about the prospects of “old-timers” getting back into football pads. “Come out and see who gets hurt first.”

In addition to Dougherty and Blose, the team also includes Shiloh Buchleitner, Devin Schimp, Dakota Mohney, Donnie Brown, Jared Kespleher, Ryan Rupp, Korbin Hornberger, Kyle Shrecengost, Curtis Lee, Kaven Hornberger, Marco Duncan, Brandon Bailey, Austin Schreckengost, Mitch Blose, Brady Shuster, Wyatt Hill, Scott Toth, Ty Buchleitner, Drake Bowersox, John Hill, Benjamin Carrillo, Curtis Jones, Aron Wilson and Cody Troup.

Fire tax to rise in Sligo

SLIGO – Facing increasing financial demands in 2020, Sligo Borough Council and Authority managed to hold the line on expenses, except for two areas, when they passed tentative budgets for next year.

At last week’s meeting, officials said Sligo Borough’s tax rate of 13.7 mills for general purposes will remain the same; however, millage for fire purposes would rise from 1 mill to 1.25 mills. The 2020 general fund budget is projected at $126,525.

Sligo Borough residents may also face a $2 per month increase in their 2020 sewage fees. The 2020 Sewer Fund is projected at $186,717. The Sligo Authority has 302 residential customers and 25 commercial customers.

Wage increases for all employees will be considered at the December meeting when the budgets receive official approval.

Sligo Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) President Maggie Bish and Fire Chief Danny Bish detailed financial challenges facing the volunteer fire department and requested that the council consider a quarter mill increase in taxes in the annual budget. One mill in taxes generates approximately $4,000.

“Volunteers are down, and community support is down,” Maggie Bish said. “A breakdown of the bills shows a monthly minimum cost that doesn’t include equipment — if it’s broken and needs repair or needs to be replaced. I want you to look at the margin between the income versus expenses. It is really small. That’s what we have each year to get new gear, equipment, trucks and everything. We had a huge donation that we don’t normally have, plus had sponsors for our benefits. If we wouldn’t have those we would have been in the red way in the ground.

“We’re asking if you guys would raise the fire tax in our area by a quarter mill over the next four years so we can schedule replacement of the equipment and order new oxygen tanks and stuff to keep our members safe right now. We’re going to start building the budget or there won’t be a fire company.”

Danny Bish said the cost of everything is going up.

“Our trucks are the next thing,” he said. “One truck we looked at can replace two trucks for one job at $165,000. We’re trying our hardest to look at how to downsize.”

SVFD made only $5,000 from its fundraiser and that represents a lot of work and chicken.

Fewer volunteers for SVFD are also a problem that surrounding fire departments are experiencing.

“The number of young firemen has dropped,” Danny Bish said. “I’ve never seen it get this bad this quick, but it’s not only Sligo; fire departments everywhere are seeing it.

“Whenever you do get members, the training involved is just unreal and especially if you’re working a full-time job or multiple jobs, like most people. All this training is over a thousand hours.”

A total of 220 hours in training are required the first year.

Fire departments are also called on to do more than fight fires, including traffic accident management, downed utilities, tree damages, and other work for free. Some fire departments have become more aggressive in charging costs to insurance companies.

Sewage Fee Increase Considered

Chuck Marsh, chairman of the Sligo Authority, recommended an increase in the monthly sewer bill to fund a conversion from electricity to natural gas for the sewage treatment plant.

“We don’t know for sure, but we checked about five years ago, and it was $5,000,” said Marsh. “We’ve been talking about doing this for quite some time. We want to get definite figures on this, but I feel that we should raise rates enough.

“We haven’t raised rates in some time and it’s just like everything else, if you don’t keep up with everything, that’s going to get ahead of you rather than raising $10 a month in five years. Sewer plants are not getting cheaper to run. Everything is getting more expensive to keep up with it. I honestly feel it’s a necessity.

Not only is it cheaper, but Marsh said natural gas would be a more dependable power source.

Welcome to Sligo

Rick Smerker of the Sligo Improvement Committee presented four variations of a possible community welcome sign developed by the committee. Residents of Sligo will be able to view and vote on the signs on Saturday, Nov. 16 from noon to 3 p.m. at the Sligo Recreation Center. A ballot system will be developed by the committee.

The committee spent months in the development of the sign designs and looking at various iterations. The leprechaun that appears on the current signs is gone, but the shamrock remains. The signs all state: Welcome to Sligo, Settled in 1828.

“Spanish gold is going to be a very bright gold with metal flake in it, so the letters shine with a green background,” Smerker said. “The boards are going to be made out of aluminum cut by laser and they’re going to be elevated off the backboard. The letters rise off the board and let nature do the shadowing.”

The new signs also emphasize the date Sligo was settled, versus when it was incorporated as a borough.

“These are like something you would see in a road sign from the 20s and 30s or of that nature and then we came up with ‘Settled in 1828’ versus saying incorporated in 1878. We’d like to go to settled in 1828, because you’re coming up on a 200-year anniversary fairly soon that you can play off,” Smerkar explained. “We just want to show we were here first; that we were here earlier in 1828. The three-leaf shamrock will also be used for some of our promotions such as the house letter signs.”

Each of the four-foot by six-foot signs will cost approximately $1,500 and Smerkar said fundraising was going well and the first sign is paid, as well as most of the second. Additional fundraising is planned.

Smerkar thanked the SVFD for its work and help in fundraising, and the members of the committee that includes Brenda Kindel, Connel Kindel, Nancy Shook, Jerri Shook, Anna Marie Laughlin, Connie Graham, Michele Divins-Elder, Madison Elder-Coy, Cindy Hartle, Deborah McDowell, Jeremy Shumaker and Christina Barkfelt.

Other Business

• An auction is scheduled for Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Sligo Recreation Center.

• The 2019 Union COG pool season ended with a debt of $8,200 with Monroe Township and Sligo Borough each paying $4,100. Concerns were raised about COG costs with only two remaining member municipalities. Rimersburg Borough also contributed $3,500 this year, but is no longer a member of the COG. Discussion about how to attract additional members to the COG presented some ideas but no resolution. Marsh suggested that 1 mill of the existing budget be dedicated for COG expenses, stipulating that it was not a tax increase.

• The Sligo Hometown Heroes Committee is selling engraved memorial granite blocks for individual veterans from Sligo Borough, Piney Township and Curllsville for a cost of $65. Bricks will be placed along the sidewalk leading to the monument at Sligo Veterans Memorial Park.

• A quality of life ticketing ordinance was approved for adoption at the Dec. 3 meeting. The ordinance authorizes an enforcement officer to enforce various borough ordinances. Mayor Jeremy Shumaker volunteer earlier to assume enforcement at no cost.

• The council approved donations of $250 each to the Eccles-Lesher Memorial Library and the Southern Clarion County Ambulance Company. Both were included in the 2019 budget.

• Attending the meeting were President Sherry Laughlin, Chuck Marsh, Michele Elder, Kerry Graham and Tom Switzer.

Police probe coroner's death

CLARION – Clarion Borough Police confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon that they are investigating the death of Clarion County Coroner Randall C. Stom.

A press release issued by Police Chief William H. Peck IV last Tuesday afternoon states that Stom was found on the 400 Block of Grant Street in Clarion at 5:11 a.m. on Nov. 12. Peck would only say that Stom was discovered by “a citizen.”

Stom, 56, of Clarion, was unresponsive and transported by Clarion Hospital EMS to the Clarion Hospital Emergency Room where he was pronounced dead.

Peck said that the incident remains under investigation, and that he couldn’t release additional details that could hamper the investigation.

Police were assisted at the scene by Clarion Hospital Ambulance, Clarion University Police, Clarion County Sheriff’s Department, Clarion-based state police, Punxsutawney-based state police and the Clarion County District Attorney’s Office.

The police chief also confirmed that Clarion County Sheriff Rex Munsee was sworn in Tuesday afternoon as acting coroner.

Reached Tuesday evening, Munsee said he could not comment on the investigation, but also confirmed that he was sworn in as acting coroner by Clarion County President Judge James Arner.

“Somebody needed to step in,” Munsee said, noting that in other counties, the sheriff has stepped in during similar circumstances.

Munsee noted the appointment is only temporary until a permanent appointment can be made.

“As a whole, the county cannot go without a coroner,” he said, adding that Stom did not have a deputy coroner working with him. “I was the closest one to help out.”

The news of Stom’s death hit other county officials hard on Tuesday.

“He was serious about the coroner’s office, always looking for ways to make it better and more efficient,” Clarion County Commissioner Wayne Brosius said. “He was very understanding and compassionate with those he dealt with in trying situations. He was a great coroner and I will greatly miss him.”

Stom, a Republican in his first four-year term as county coroner, graduated from Clarion-Limestone High School, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in science education, and had post-graduate doctoral (ABD) studies in education and education administration from the University of South Carolina and Slippery Rock University. He graduated from the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science with honors and was recognized by his peers with the Memorial Award for leadership. He also worked as a funeral director at Goble Funeral Home in Clarion.

Prior to taking office in 2017, Stom served as a deputy coroner for two years, and was the chief deputy coroner for Clarion County for three years.

According to his campaign announcement from 2016, Stom was involved with the Clarion Kiwanis Club, Pennies From Heaven, the First United Methodist Church, and other civic and service organizations.

Josh W / By JOSH WALZAK L-V Editor 

UNION HIGH SCHOOL students greet some of the approximately 35 veterans on hand Monday morning for the school’s 62nd annual Veterans Day program. For more, see inside today’s issue.

Evanne / By EVANNE GAREIS L-V Staff Writer 

STUDENTS AT REDBANK Valley Primary School take time to greet local veterans following their annual Veterans Day program on Monday, Nov. 11. Photos from the various Redbank Veterans Day programs can be found inside today’s paper.